HELP REPAIR Faces of the World's HQ
On July 14, in Tamaqua, PA, Fire Chief James Connely led volunteer firefighters who worked tirelessly for 4 hours to extinguish the flames at educational non-profit Faces of the World’s headquarter. Fire companies included the American Hose Fire Company No. 1, East End Fire Company No. 5, Citizens Fire Company, and the South Ward Fire Company No. 4.
This non-profit is housed in a former 1852 Presbyterian church that was repaired and remodeled for 10 years to become a studio for internationally acclaimed portrait painter, Stephen Bennett. He is the founder and President of Faces of the World (FOTW), a 501(c)(3) non-profit.
At the time of the fire, Stephen was working in Indonesia. Unfortunately, after 9 years of insurance coverage, his policy expired during his absence. Estimates of $250,000 worth of damages were done to the non-profit’s headquarters and 50 large portrait paintings (7x5 feet to 10x9 feet) were completely destroyed—valued at over $1.2 million.
Devastating Damage to Faces of the World's Headquarters!
Teaching Portrait Workshops to 10,000 Children Worldwide!
Stephen Bennett founded Faces of the World in 2005. This non-profit corporation’s mission is to preserve and celebrate the diversity of the world's people through art education, cultural exchange and embracing tolerance. Stephen has dedicated his life to capturing the essence of these cultures with large, dynamic portraits that put us face to face with our common humanity.Traveling to over 32 countries in the last 25 years, Stephen “gives back” to each community he lives with by offering Portrait Workshops to school children. As a role model, Stephen first shares other cultures by showing portfolios of his World Portraits. This introduction to other cultures and faces truly fascinates them. http://www.facesoftheworld.net/
Embracing Diversity and Tolerance Stephen then teaches children how to paint portraits of each other with energy and color. He speaks to them about the importance of embracing cultural diversity and tolerance, often times using an interpreter. Children cannot help but become engaged in this dynamic process. Completing a portrait compels a child to focus on another person, instills confidence and opens their perspective of the world’s people. To date, Stephen has taught over 10,000 children worldwide including many schools within the USA.
Portrait Workshop with 300 Children in Tahiti
Near the end of his stay, Stephen produces a World Portrait Exhibit of each community to instill cultural pride and self acceptance with large indigenous portraits. To look into the eyes of these grand portraits is to experience our collective humanity—mesmerizing and life changing!
Life’s Work Destroyed!
Most of Stephen Bennett’s World Portraits are on a grand scale—many being 7x5 feet (see inset below) with some measuring up to 10x9 feet. Because of their scale, each of these portraits takes many months to render.
The vibrancy of the paintings are created by applying several layers of opaque and translucent paints that Stephen has hand-mixed from pure pigments. Regretfully, all but 10 of his 60 large canvases were completely destroyed in the fire. The ones that were salvaged have smoke or water damage and could take years to bring back to “life”.
There is HOPE! The headquarters of Faces of the World can be SAVED! The historic church has great “bones”. The 3-foot thick walls still stand strong. The 7,000 square foot interior will need to be cleaned out, gutted, re-plastered, roof repaired, new plumbing and electrical lines installed, and windows replaced. Contractors have estimated costs to be at least $250,000—the windows alone if installed with just plain glass would cost $90,000!
YOUR DONATION IS 100% TAX DEDUCTIBLE! Your PayPal receipt is emailed to you within minutes. YOUR SUPPORT is desperately needed to REPAIR Faces of the World’s headquarters. Only then can Stephen continue his life’s mission—seeking out indigenous people, creating World Portraits, teaching Portrait Workshops, helping children to embrace diversity and Uniting Humanity!
About Stephen Bennett
Stephen Bennett is is a passionate and dedicated portrait painter. Over the last 25 years he has traveled to 32 countries seeking out indigenous people to capture their soulful faces and ritual adornments through vibrantly colored paintings.
These World Portraits are grand tributes—many 7x5 feet up to 10x9 feet—honoring cultures that are rapidly fading. The focus of his paintings is on the eyes that invite us to enter and experience our common humanity... for he truly believes that we are all one people.
Stephen uses only paints that he’s hand-mixed from pure pigments. He then layers both opaque and translucent acrylics to create mesmerizing results.
Celebrities and Dignitaries
Stephen Bennett has portrayed a number of celebrities and dignitaries . Many portraits, donated by Stephen, are used in auctions to raise money for various charities. Other portraits appear in private collections. For example, the portrait of Michelle Pfeiffer, Sharon Stone and Iman raised funds for A.I.D.S. through amfAR (American Foundation for Aids Research.) His portrait of Tom Brokaw was a gift to Mr. Brokaw from UNICEF for his fundraising efforts for the organization.
Portrait of Sharon Stone painted by Stephen Bennett. It was commissioned by amfAR to thank Sharon for her dedication raising funds for A.I.D.S.
UNITED NATIONS Exhibits and Postage Stamps
Stephen Bennett’s World Portraits have been exhibited three different years at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. In 2009, the United Nations Postal Administration featured 18 of his portraits on the “Indigenous People” series of stamps. Because his colors were so vibrant, this was the first time that the UNPA chose to print HEX, using 6 ink colors rather than the usual 4. In 2010 and 2012, the UNPA produced two additional series of “Indigenous People” stamps— a total of 54 United Nations stamps featuring only the portraits of one artist... Stephen Bennett.
Dedicated to Art and Community
Faces of the World and other volunteers worked with the Tamaqua Community Arts Center to create an “Artist in Residency” program whereby aspiring artists could be supported within their growing artist’s community. Together, they arranged places for artists to stay, collaborate with artists to culturally enrich the town of Tamaqua, Pennsylvania and create rewarding and lasting relationships.
Stephen also received a grant from Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, which supported him to travel and teach at three high schools in the Tamaqua area. The high-light of this work with local children was the production of a mural of 1930's jazz band, The Dorsey Brothers.
Faces of the World’s headquarters was open to children and adults alike to visit and watch him paint portraits. The building was also a museum featuring Stephen’s portraits paintings and cultural artifacts that he had collected during 25 years of world travel.
Stephen sits in front of his incredible portrait of His Holiness, 14th Dalai Lama located within the museum area of Faces of the World's headquarters. Below shows museum area after the devastating fire.